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Top 3 Causes of Traumatic Spinal Cord Injuries in Ontario

By Matt Lalande in Spinal Cord Injuries on January 21, 2021

Top 3 Causes of Traumatic Spinal Cord Injuries in Ontario

The top three causes of traumatic spinal cord injuries in Canada are slip and falls, motor vehicle accidents and pedestrians hit by cars. All three causes are more prevelant in men than women. gunshot wounds, motorcycle crashes, and diving caused more SCIs in males than females. 

Traumatic spinal cord injuries, whether complete or incomplete, have a devastating impact on the victims, as well as their families and loved ones. Very few people experience complete neurologic recovery after SCI. These injuries are often unexpected, which leads to deep physical, psychological, and financial repercussions.  Many traumatic spinal cord injuries result in permanent paraplegia, which can completely turn an individual’s life upside down within moments. The victims body more often than not, permanently loses many important functions since the nerves cannot communicate with one another. A damaged spinal cord can negatively affect a person’s muscle movement,. breathing, heart rate, sensations and bladder/bowel intestinal functions. Paraplegic spinal cord victims will live with the repercussions of someone else’s mistakes for the rest of their lives, amounting to millions of dollars in care and medical costs, intense psychological and emotional experiences, decreased quality of life, and chronic pain, among many other issues. 

As Hamilton spinal cord injury lawyers, we have seen firsthand how devastating these impacts can really be. We have worked with spinal cord injury victims across Ontario, providing essential support throughout every step of the recovery process, from negotiating a settlement to assisting with lifestyle and housing arrangements. Through this experience, we have also come to understand how important it is to understand the factors and causes of spinal cord injury.

Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury Prevalence in Canada

Approximately 86,000 people in Canada are currently living with some form of spinal cord injury, and according to the data, 43,974 of these injuries are traumatic spinal cord injuries. The lifetime cost of a spinal cord injury can reach millions of dollars.

A traumatic spinal cord injury is an injury that is caused by a sudden trauma or forceful impact to the spinal cord. Approximately 90% of all cases of spinal cord injury are traumatic. In contrast, a nontraumatic spinal cord injury may occur due to natural circumstances such as arthritis, disk degeneration, multiple sclerosis, or another illness. 

Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is due to a traumatic injury that either results in a bruise (also called a contusion), a partial tear, or a complete tear (called a transection) in the spinal cord. SCI is a common cause of permanent disability and death in children and adults.  The severity of the paralysis depends on the location of the lesion on the spinal crod.

There are many causes of SCI. The more common injuries occur when the area of the spine or neck is bent or compressed. The top 3 causes of traumatic spinal cord injury in Canada are as follows:

Slip and Falls

According to the International Spinal Cord Society, unintentional falls are the leading cause of traumatic spinal cord injury in Ontario. The prevalence rate for this type of injury is highest among those over 65 years of age. Slip and falls notoriously impact the bones and spinal cord due to the hard and unexpected nature of the fall, leaving the individual little time to brace for impact, and the risk factor that an individual may also hit their head or neck amid the impact. 

Every step you take could lead to a potential slip and fall accident, whether you are at a private residence or a public location. However, certain factors increase those chances and citizens have the duty to ensure that they are not presenting risks for the safety of others. For example, an unsalted sidewalk after a snowstorm can easily lead to a slip and fall that could result in a traumatic spinal cord injury. Likewise, if you are hosting people at your home for a party, it is your duty to remove any potential hazards that could cause someone to fall or you could be held liable for their injuries.

Motor Vehicle Accidents 

While it is commonly believed that this is the most common factor, motor vehicle accidents are actually the second leading cause of traumatic spinal cord injury in Ontario specifically. This is due to the fact that motor vehicle accidents almost always present an unexpected, forceful impact on the body. Additionally, drunk driving and distracted driving are leading causes of car accidents that can have severe consequences for the victims.

Certain types of motor vehicle accidents have higher risk factors for causing a spinal cord injury. Head-on collisions are a significant cause of spinal cord injury due to the high speed at which both cars are travelling, and the direct front impact this can cause. T-bone collisions are another major cause of spinal cord injury, especially for passengers as the side door does not provide a substantial amount of protection for the individual. Motorcycle accidents also present a high risk factor as the motorcycle rider is more vulnerable against a vehicle.

Pedestrian Accidents 

Another leading cause of traumatic spinal cord injury, pedestrian accidents can have catastrophic, if not fatal, consequences for the victims. This is a bigger risk factor for children and elderly adults, but it could happen to anyone, especially if drunk driving or distracted driving are involved. 

An individual on the street or sidewalk with no safety protection is completely vulnerable against a heavy motor vehicle. As a result, it’s almost impossible for a pedestrian to withstand the impact from a car. Brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones are all common, yet severe, consequences that often occur during pedestrian accidents. 

Other Common Causes of Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury 

There are a variety of other causes of traumatic spinal cord injury in Ontario, and while they are less common, they can still have severe and devastating consequences when they occur. 

Sports accidents are another leading cause that contributes to many cases of traumatic spinal cord injury each year. Concussions, head injuries, and cervical spine injuries (neck injuries) are common in physical sports, and injuries at the cervical spine can result in the most severe catastrophic consequences. 

Diving accidents in swimming pools are less common but often lead to cervical spinal cord injuries, especially in younger populations. When an individual dives into a pool and the water is too shallow, they can easily hit their head on the bottom of the pool. The force at which they dove in combined with the hard concrete of the bottom of the pool often results in severe neck injuries that can cause catastrophic cervical cord damage.

Other accidents that can lead to traumatic spinal cord injury include violent encounters such as a stabbing attack, trampoline accidents, workplace accidents, and bicycle accidents.

If You Have Suffered a Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury in Ontario, You Are Not Alone. Our Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers Can Help. 

As a spinal cord injury lawyer in practice since 2003, Matt Lalande has collected a vast amount of resources, connections, and knowledge that give him a prominent advantage to help traumatic spinal cord injury victims get their lives back on track. In addition to representing spinal cord injury victims and advocating for successful personal injury settlements on their behalf, he is also able to provide a variety of support options during recovery. This includes recommending medical health specialists, supportive living resources, arranging transportation options, working with housing experts, and more.

To learn more about our services and support options, book a free consultation with Matt and his team. All consultations are free, and we can travel to you if you are unable to come to our offices or meet virtually. Call nationwide at 1-844-LALANDE or schedule a call back online.

Written with the Assistance of Lesley Cornelius, Medical Writer

1 King Street East, Suite 1705
Hamilton, On L8P 1A4

*The above information was approved by Matt Lalande or another lawyer at Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers. The information comes from legal experience, trial experience, extensive medical research and discussion with medical professionals, medical journal review and updates and/or consultations with fellow friends and colleagues in the legal and medical field.



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